Vive la headbang revolution…
After almost a year of heavy ID request action, Shake The Ground has finally been unleashed with sweaty, circle-pitting results. Written, created and hammered into shape by Kill The Noise, Snails, man of the moment Sullivan King and guitarist Jonah Kay, Shake The Ground is the latest in a rapidly growing line of intense metal / bass hybrids.
Capturing the current energy, vibe and feeling in US for big headbanging, guitar-blazing metal fusions (almost all of which involve Sullivan King) it’s yet another snapshot of where bass music’s rude and riotous health is at right now in America. Accurately foretold by Sullivan and the Dirtyphonics with this interview we ran in January, it’s an exciting place to be… To the point Kill The Noise compares the current situation to where the UK was at in 2010.
With their first Kill The Snails booking locked in, and plans to hook up and conjure more visceral, heavyweight fusions in the future, we caught up with Kill The Noise and Snails to find out more.
People count dubstep out so many times but it keeps coming back and it’s becoming extreme again but this time in a rock mentality. So during that period of ‘EDM’ time, if that’s what we’re calling it, there wasn’t a huge amount of super aggressive stuff. There was a lot of lowest common denominator stuff that was being written to please people and not enough extreme stuff.” – Kill The Noise
Last time I spoke to either of you we were in the midst of ‘peak EDM’. We’re in a happier place musically these days, would you agree?
Kill The Noise: Yeah I’m with you man. It feels like there’s a good balance of everything. In the past, especially three or four years ago, it felt like everyone was trying to make the most commercial crossover stuff they could. For a while it felt like that was the most natural progression of where dance music was heading. Even I started to question it. But it did peak out, like things always do, and it dropped back into the weirdness it came from.
The commercial thread became pop music and, if you’re interested in that stuff, you followed that. But for the rest of us it was like ‘well that was a bit distracting’. But now it feels like there’s a good balance of mainstream appeal and the cool shit. Dance music has always been about experimenting. Some ideas don’t work. Some of them aren’t meant to work but do really well. Like the whole metal and electronic crossover. On top of that, I also think people are going back to older sounds that they weren’t around for or had been influenced by them when they first got into it.
Snails: I think it’s been going in this direction for a while. When Excision did Throwing Elbows, that was for me the first tune to really nail that metal and dubstep mutant.
Kill The Snails: That’s interesting. Your perspective comes from a different moment in music. Back in the day me and Skrill made tracks with Korn! Another thing that Excision has brought in was more of a cultural thing, with headbanging at shows. It’s become a really big thing now.
It’s interesting because every chapter you strike this fusion of electronic music and metal it’s never been over exposed. People who get it, get it. It doesn’t get jumped on like a bandwagon.
Snails: Yeah it can’t get mainstream. It’s too heavy for that. When things go too mainstream that’s when things get compromised and quality drops. It’s good that it stays at a more underground level. Not lowkey underground, because these are big shows.
A cult following though….
Kill The Noise: You know this vibe that we’re seeing in the US at the moment is reminiscent of the UK in around 2010/11 when Sonny came through. He played Koko with Flux and the atmosphere and energy was just off the fucking chain. It was a wild show. The vibe of everyone there was intense and chaotic. And that’s what’s happening with the metal crossover in America. It feels like that.
Me and Craze were in Miami and he described dubstep as our generation’s rock music. It’s always going to be there, it isn’t always going to be liked by everyone. It doesn’t want to please everyone. Like you said; if you get it, you get it. People count dubstep out so many times but it keeps coming back and it’s becoming extreme again but this time in a rock mentality. So during that period of ‘EDM’ time, if that’s what we’re calling it, there wasn’t a huge amount of super aggressive stuff. There was a lot of lowest common denominator stuff that was being written to please people and not enough extreme stuff.
Snails you always felt like the reaction to that when you came through with those really weird and messed up noises!
Snails: Haha! Well that was me reflecting my own influences. Guys like Jake, guys like Sonny. All that movement just before everything went crazy and ‘EDM’ inspired me. That energy and feeling I got from the music. I just processed it in a Fred way. Which to begin with was just the wrong way; I tried to work out the sounds Jake and Skrillex were making but I was so bad that I accidentally found a completely different sound. That’s how the vomit thing happened.
A happy accident!
Snails: Obviously I know what I’m doing a lot more now but yeah, the happiest fucking accident I ever had man!
Kill The Noise: This is really interesting. It takes time for things that you’ve done to permeate through to the next generation, right? You don’t know how your music is hitting people because they won’t be expressing those influences until they’ve worked it out their own way in the studio
Cycles! Sometimes it’s 10 years. Sometimes 20.
Kill The Noise: Yeah man. And that’s worked for me, too. Recently I’ve just put out a song with Bad Company. If they didn’t put out those pivotal records I probably wouldn’t have become a producer or a DJ. To work with those guys and become friends with them almost 20 years later is incredible. It’s the same with Snails; when he first put out his earliest records, like Bubble Gun, I could hear a distinct thing; He sounded like he was excited about experimenting with crazy sounds and just having fun.
Snails: Hell yeah
Kill The Noise: I remember thinking at the time; ‘fuck! That’s what I’m meant to be doing. That’s why I started making tunes.’ I slapped myself around a bit and got back in the studio and started making fucking stuff that’s weird again
Snails: Same now man. When I hear people on the come up and I hear a new type of construction I think ‘oh shit, I never thought of doing that!’ And I get inspired. That’s how we don’t go stale. And it’s just like when we did Shake The Ground. We just did what the fuck we wanted. It’s a different tempo to what we usually do, Jake got Jonah the guitarist on it. It’s like we wanted to translate metal but in our own perspective. And the break down is my favourite bit. I remember thinking how sick would this be if you heard it like a live song in the break? Like you would in a rock tune. Like fucking Queen or something with all the drama and the stamping. Whenever we play it, it feels like a real metal show.
Kill The Noise: To me I’m gonna look back on this track and the people involved and it’ll be a capsule of what’s going on here with shit like Lost Lands. That’s what I was picturing. It feels like you’re in a Metallica show. I know headbanging has always been a thing. There’s always been people on the rail going crazy but now it’s a fucking thing. A big thing over here. You need to come to Lost Lands man.
I do. I need to biggup Sullivan too. He’s in the thick of this!
Snails: He works so fucking fast man! He comes from the metal world. When he works on the vocals, lyrics or solos or riffs he knows what he’s doing. I can hear his mixdowns a mile off, too. You can hear the metal mixdown. He stays true to his roots.
Kill The Noise: He’s got that raw perspective on this whole shit. He’s not coming at it from an engineering point of view. He’s coming in as a vocalist and guitar player. He’s been in bands. He has this sensibility of writing riffs and keepings things unrefined. I think you really notice that when someone comes in from a different style and does things differently. It’s why Skrillex had the impact he did. He came from a rock background, he did things his own way and it had a lot of imperfections about it but it was raw. Sullivan is fresh like that too.
The track has the vibe that you’re all in the same room together
Kill The Noise: We started it together in LA. Snails was visiting. Then we bounced itb ack and forth a bit.
Snails: It’s changed so many times. Every version we kept one little thing then changed the rest. The drop has changed so many times. There’s been a crazy evolution over the year we’ve been making it.
Kill The Noise: And we’ve been tweaking it right to the end.
It’s been on dub for a while. People were calling it Fuck It, right?
Kill The Noise: Yeah and all of those versions on the ID sites are different. We were doing cosmetic shit right to the end. It didn’t even have a second drop until recently.
Snails: We also have different versions made to play out ourselves. For a while it was cool just to keep and play for ourselves.
Kill The Noise: Dude I fucking love the idea of tunes being made and never coming out. From a drum & bass background, that was so important. That motivates people to want to come to shows and hear things that they want to hear. Especially if there are different versions and you want to hear a certain remix. I love that. I know it pisses people off a lot but if you’re not pissing people off or upsetting them or challenging them then what you’re doing doesn’t have any value. Anyway, long story short, Sullivan lives round he corner from me and he works in the same studio Metallica wrote Ride The Lightning and Ice T wrote Cop Killer. It’s a legendary studio space. He recorded vocals which were his idea. I think the first idea was about shaking the rail
Snails: It was bit too obvious though. It’s like the cliché of 123 jump. We wanted to say ‘now is a cool time to headbang friends’ but without actually saying ‘hey yo you’ve got to headbang now!’
Kill The Noise: Ha! Dumbass shit!
Snails: Yeah, we wanted to be a bit less obvious. And also working with Jake was cool because he’s very inspiring with experimentation. For example, we did this afterparty in Chicago at The Mid. We had been thinking about the track and thought ‘the only thing missing is the crowd’. So we recorded the crowd at this show. Jake was like ‘everybody you’re gonna be part of the record’ and we recorded them shouting shake the ground. That was a super cool thing and I’d never have thought of doing that.
Can we assume there’ll be more collaborations in the pipeline?
Snails: We’re playing a show together as Kill The Snails at Hardfest. It’s our first booking together, so I think we’ll definitely work together. We really want to give a real metal flavour to the show, maybe do some old school metal edits for it, too.
Kill The Noise: I love it. Even the name Kill The Snails doesn’t even make any sense and I love that. There’s a time for super conceptual ideas and then there’s a time for having fun and embracing the infectious energy. One of the reasons I love playing with Snails is that immediate energy. It’s like your body and soul is leading. You’re not being precious with ideas, you’re going with the flow. That’s how Shake The Ground came about and I have no doubt Fred and I will work together.
Snails: Fuck yeah. Sometimes you work with people and they’re like ‘right this is done.’ But for me Jake is great because he’ll always push it that little bit further. He’ll always want to try one more idea, experiment with one more little thing. These minor details make so much difference. I guess we complement each other in opposite ways. It’s very inspiring, man.
Kill The Noise: Being spontaneous is like a hat. Everything else I do can be very tedious and detailed. So it’s great to work with performers like Sullivan and producers like Fred. For me it’s like going to therapy. Hanging with people who live in the moment balances things for me. It’s a great combination.